First Pitch: Nolan Ryan and new K record

September, 22, 2010
9/22/10
3:15
PM ET
Today’s Trivia: On this date in 1993, Nolan Ryan made the final appearance of his career. No active pitcher even has half of his career strikeout total. However, four active pitchers have 2,000 career strikeouts. Can you name them?

Quick Hits: On Tuesday, the Arizona Diamondbacks struck out six times to reach 1,403 on the season. That broke the single-season record of 1,399 set by the 2001 Milwaukee Brewers.

• The Diamondbacks have played 65 games this season where they have struck out at least 10 times; that's 17 more than the team with the second most. Even that 2001 Brewers team only had 56 of them. Not surprisingly, the Diamondbacks are just 15-50 when fanning at least 10 times.

• They’ve only had nine games of striking out five times or fewer. Since 1920, the fewest such games is 17 by those 2001 Brewers. This season, the Florida Marlins have the next fewest with 24. By contrast, the Chicago White Sox have 82.

• They’ve already set a record by having five players with 130 or more strikeouts. The 2002 Chicago Cubs and 1991 and 1992 Detroit Tigers claimed the old record with four.

Reynolds• Mark Reynolds already has his third straight 200-strikeout season, but he’s all but secured an even more embarrassing statistic. With 202 strikeouts and a .203 batting average, it seems extremely likely that he won’t hit his strikeout total. Even Rob Deer didn’t do that back in 1991 when he struck out 175 times and hit .179. In fact, the "record" total of strikeouts that was above a player’s batting average belongs to pitcher Dean Chance. In 1968, he struck out 63 times while hitting .054. Among position players, it’s never happened to a player who actually recorded a hit.

• Reynolds has fanned 629 times since 2008. Among pitchers, only Tim Lincecum, Dan Haren, CC Sabathia and Justin Verlander have more strikeouts than that.

• In 2002, the Los Angeles Angels won the World Series after striking out only 805 times in the regular season. Even if you didn’t count their outfielders, the Diamondbacks have already exceeded that total.

• As researcher Mark Simon points out, the Diamondbacks are averaging a strikeout every 4.1 plate appearances. That's roughly equal to the career rate of Jim Thome, the man with the second most strikeouts of all time.

Today’s Leaderboard: Not surprisingly, Reynolds strikes out at the highest rate in the league in addition to having the most strikeouts. So who is the toughest to strike out? Among qualifying players, that distinction belongs to Jeff Keppinger.

Key Matchups
• On July 31, the Texas Rangers beat the Angels 2-1 as Rich Harden outdueled Dan Haren, who was making his second start since getting traded. At that point the Rangers were 25-22 on the road. Since then, Texas is just 10-19 away from home. Which brings us back to Haren, who is scheduled to start Wednesday against the Rangers. The key hit in that July game was a two-run home run by Vladimir Guerrero. He’s a .414 career hitter against Haren, and no one has more career home runs (three) or RBI (10) against the Angels hurler.

• Just 9-11 in September, the Atlanta Braves look to avoid the sweep against the Philadelphia Phillies. They’ll have to deal with Roy Oswalt, who is 7-0 with a 1.41 ERA in his last eight starts. However, Oswalt is 0-3 with a 7.58 ERA in seven career starts against the Braves, the only NL team (besides Houston) that he’s yet to defeat. Atlanta might find its offense from an unlikely source. Alex Gonzalez is 10-for-23 lifetime against Oswalt with a pair of homers. That .435 average is fourth-best among those who have faced him 20 times.

Trivia Answer: Jamie Moyer, Javier Vazquez, Andy Pettitte and Tim Wakefield are the only active pitchers with 2,000 career strikeouts. Moyer is one of three active players who struck out against Ryan.

Jeremy Lundblad

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